Norway soccer leader who confronted Qatar seeks top UEFA job

GENEVA (AP) — The Norwegian official who made her reputation in soccer politics with a speech in Doha last year criticizing World Cup host Qatar is seeking to join the UEFA executive committee.

Lise Klaveness, one of the few women Presidents of a national soccer federation, is standing as a candidate in elections for a seat on the European governing body’s decision-making board, the Norwegian Football Federation (NFF) said Wednesday.

UEFA has set a Feb. 5 deadline to enter the election contests, including the quota seat on the 20-member executive committee protected for a woman.

Voting is by the 55 UEFA member Federations on April 5 at their annual meeting in Lisbon, Portugal.

If Klaveness wins, she will sit on the UEFA board alongside one of the most influential Qataris in world soccer, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, the president of Paris Saint-Germain.

Al-Khelaïfi is chairman of the European Club Association and a close ally of UEFA’s president, Aleksander Čeferin, whose patronage can be key for election success.

In an interview Wednesday with Norwegian broadcaster NRK, Klaveness said she met last week with Čeferin to explain her candidacy.

Klaveness had been president of the NFF just a few weeks last year when she made a speech in Qatar last March that was stunning by the standards of the tightly scripted FIFA Congress.

A judge and former national-team player who is also gay, Klaveness drew the attention of global soccer leaders from more than 200 countries — on the eve of the World Cup Finals tournament draw — to Qatar’s record on migrant labor rights and criminalization of homosexuality.

FIFA tried to persuade the Norwegian delegation not to make the speech and it drew a strong riposte in the Congress hall from the head of Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee.

Klaveness later joined FIFA in October at a Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg, France, to put the case for a compensation fund for the families of workers who died or were injured helping build World Cup projects in Qatar. No fund has been created.

The Women’s seat on the UEFA executive committee that is due to be elected in April has been held since 2016 by Florence Hardouin, director general of the France soccer federation.

Hardouin was suspended last week from her job in Paris as part of wider investigations into the management culture at the French federation.


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